Local Heroes 2012 category winners and judges: back row left-right Alan Hayes, Uxbridge Gazette News Editor; Alan Storer; David Ross; Mayor of Hillingdon Councillor Michael Markham; Janet Ross; Neil Sullivan; Pearl Bloom and Laraine Smith, Principal of Uxbridge College. Front: Tyrese Jeffers. (Photo courtesy of Uxbridge Gazette).A retired couple who work tirelessly to make their area a better, safer
A retired couple who work tirelessly to make their area a better, safer place have been named overall winners of the Local Heroes awards, scooping the Hero of Hillingdon trophy in the competition run by Uxbridge College and the Uxbridge Gazette & Leader.
David and Janet Ross also topped the Community Champion category in the annual competition to find the borough’s unsung heroes, at the gala awards night, held at Uxbridge College's Hayes Community Campus. Catering & Hospitality students provided drinks and a buffet, and Production Arts students looked after lighting and sound for the ceremony.
The couple, who have lived in Ferrers Avenue, West Drayton, for the past 50 years, co-ordinate the area's Neighbourhood Watch scheme and are dedicated Street Champions, as well as being prominent members of the Yiewsley and West Drayton Town Centre Action Group, which aims to improve the area for residents and businesses.
For the past 10 years, they have also run The Pelican Club, a social group for blind and partially-sighted people in the borough, on a voluntary basis.
The Community Champion category was one of five in which members of the public were nominated by friends, family, teachers and colleagues. The other categories were Courageous Citizen, Fabulous Fundraiser, Outstanding Young Person, and Star Carer. For each category there was an overall winner who received £200, and judges also awarded a number of runner-up prizes of £50 and highly commended awards. Mr and Mrs Ross received an additional £700 as overall winners.
The Community Champion category also included a special award in recognition of the contribution of Tony Dunn, who died in January at the age of just 55. Tony, who was General Manager of The Chimes shopping centre in Uxbridge, generously supported a number of projects in the community.
The competition judges were: The Worshipful the Mayor and Mayoress of Hillingdon Councillor Michael Markham and Mrs Rosemary Markham; Laraine Smith, Principal of Uxbridge College, and Alan Hayes, News Editor of the Uxbridge Gazette & Leader series.
Speaking after receiving the awards Mr Ross said: "We are just absolutely gobsmacked.
"Listening to all these stories, we feel that we haven't done anything special to deserve this.
"We are just cogs in a bigger machine, and there are lots of people in West Drayton doing what we do.
"Janet and I make a good team - she is the brains, and I am the pork."
Laraine Smith, Principal of Uxbridge College, said: “It is a privilege to have joined the Uxbridge Gazette and Leader newspapers in making Local Heroes possible yet again.
“Our heroes really are unique, exceptional, and extraordinary and it is an honour to be part of something which gives us a chance to acknowledge their contribution and achievements.
“Local Heroes is all about community, something which is close to our hearts at Uxbridge College. The education, training and services we provide are there to support our community, and to provide opportunities to the individuals in it."
Alan Hayes, News Editor of the Uxbridge Gazette & Leader series, said: “This year’s nominees were of an exceptionally high standard, and choosing an overall winner from them was a hard task for the judges.
“Janet and David stood out because of their long-standing commitment to improving their community through their activity with various local groups, and the voluntary work they do running a vital service for people with visual impairments, providing vulnerable, elderly people with a social lifeline.”
The awards are now in their tenth year, and this year's crop of nominees and their inspiring stories of charity, selflessness and community spirit proved that Hillingdon has its fair share of heroes who make a difference every day.
Full list of winners
Hero of Hillingdon
David and Janet Ross
Winner: Alan Storer
Runner-up: Olivia Stimpson
Highly Commended: Katharine Moran
Winner: Neil Sullivan
Runners-up: Veronica Rumsey, Tom Weatherall
Highly Commended: Jeff Duley, Alka Sethi, Ian Taplin and Rob Parkinson
Winner: David and Janet Ross
Runners-up: Roy Mapplebeck, Sue Mutters
Highly Commended: Wendy Caines, Andrew Riley
Outstanding Young Person
Winner: Tyrese Jeffers (8)
Runners-up: Nadia Becker (15), Charlie Bruce (14), Abdul-Najeeb Mohammed (12)
Highly Commended: Oliver Kenway (13), Fjolla Krasniqi
Winner: Pearl Bloom
Runners-up: Alan Gibbons, Eugenia Haywood
Highly Commended: Marge Matthews
Community Champion Tribute Award
See the Uxbridge Gazette for the full story and pictures.